The 2013 season of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup opened on Friday, in Albstadt, Germany, with the brand new eliminator discipline and a brand new World Cup leader, Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) awarded the first ever leader's jersey in this new event.
The eliminator begins with a time trial around a short urban course filled with obstacles. The top 32 riders qualify for competition and then race in heats of four, with the top two in each heat moving on to the next round. Eventually, the top four riders race for the World Cup title.
The Albstadt course featured lots of sharp corners, a set of stairs and three ramps in the long straightaway before the final 180-degree turn and false flat sprint to the finish line. At 700 metres, it was one of the longer courses the riders face, and a qualifying lap followed by up to four heats took a lot out of the legs.
Engen, the women's world champion in the eliminator, showed that she was in Albstadt to win by recording the fastest qualifying time. Her march to the final was without any bumps, as she won both of her eighth and quarter final heats and took second in the semi-final, conserving her energy for the medal race.
In the final, she rode away from Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) to easily cross the line alone in first, with Stirnemann holding off a challenge by Nadine Rieder (Topeak Ergon) for second. Cecile Ravanel (GT Skoda) was fourth.
Engen received a boost of sorts, when her two greatest rivals - Jolanda Neff (Giant) and Jenny Rissveds (Swedish National) tangled in their semi-final, taking them out of contention. Neff admitted afterwards that it was her fault as she tried to overtake Rissveds before the stair descent, despite the fact that they were sitting one-two at the time to qualify for the final.
"I think the course suited me well," said Engen. "This was a course where a good start had a strong advantage, and I am a fast starter. But I'm happy it stayed dry, because it could have been a whole different race on wet pavement. The qualifier gave me confidence that I had the speed, and I was in control during my races, so I could do my own thing."
Engen denied that wearing the rainbow stripes of world champion had put extra pressure on her shoulders, "Yes, of course I feel the expectations, but I need to realize that I'm riding because I love riding, and not for what others want."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing Team|
|2||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team|
|3||Nadine Rieder (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team|
|4||Cécile Ravanel (Fra) Team GT Skoda|
|5||Jenny Rissveds* (Swe)|
|6||Ingrid Sofie Jacobsen* (Nor)|
|7||Anne Terpstra* (Ned) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team|
|8||Jolanda Neff* (Swi) Giant Pro XC Team|
|9||Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol|
|10||Ramona Forchini* (Swi) Strübi MTB Kader|
|11||Anna Oberparleiter (Ita)|
|12||Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau* (Can)|
|13||Nathalie Schneitter (Swi) Team Colnago Sudtirol|
|14||Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Pol) Bi&Esse Carrera|
|15||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team|
|16||Laura Turpijn (Ned) SBJ Bike Team|
|17||Chloe Woodruff (USA)|
|18||Sabrina Maurer (Swi) BSK Graf-Rollmat-Koba MTB Team|
|19||Iryna Popova* (Ukr) Cycling Club Roma MTB Team|
|20||Pauline Pajot° (Fra) ASPTT Definitive Tec|
|21||Lucie Vesela (Cze)|
|22||Ana Zupan (Slo)|
|23||Maaris Meier (Est)|
|24||Haley Smith* (Can)|
|25||Maxine Filby (GBr)|
|26||Barbara Benko (Hun) Focus XC Team|
|27||Romaine Wenger* (Swi)|
|28||Cayley Brooks* (Can)|
|DNF||Hielke Elferink (Ned)|
|DNS||Marta Tereshchuk* (Ukr) Cycling Club Roma MTB Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing Team||60||pts|
|2||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team||40|
|3||Nadine Rieder (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team||30|
|4||Cécile Ravanel (Fra) Team GT Skoda||25|
|5||Jenny Rissveds* (Swe)||20|
|6||Ingrid Sofie Jacobsen* (Nor)||18|
|7||Anne Terpstra* (Ned) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team||16|
|8||Jolanda Neff* (Swi) Giant Pro XC Team||14|
|9||Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol||12|
|10||Ramona Forchini* (Swi) Strübi MTB Kader||10|
|11||Anna Oberparleiter (Ita)||8|
|12||Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau* (Can)||6|
|13||Nathalie Schneitter (Swi) Team Colnago Sudtirol||4|
|14||Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Pol) Bi&Esse Carrera||3|
|15||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||2|
|16||Laura Turpijn (Ned) SBJ Bike Team||1|